Erie Vital Signs

Participation in Arts and Cultural Activities: Arts & Cultural Attendance

Recent Performance

This trend is mixed or inconclusive.

The attendance and participation data of arts and cultural organizations can lend valuable insight into the health of the local arts and cultural community. Unfortunately, even the best available data sources for the Erie region can have serious limitations. Such is the case with the recent attendance data reported by the Pennsylvania Cultural Data Project. In 2012, only 15 arts and cultural organizations in the region reported data compared to 23 the year before and 27 in 2010. Such limitations prevent accurate year-over-year comparisons of attendance totals.

A better year to benchmark 2012 data against is 2007, when data was reported by 14 local arts and cultural organizations. On one hand, paid attendance in 2012 was significantly lower than in 2007. Total attendance, which includes both free and paid attendance, is a much different story with 2012 total attendance significantly outpacing the total reported by local arts and cultural organizations in 2007.

PLEASE NOTE: The number of organizations that respond to the Pennsylvania Cultural Data Project varies each year. The 2012 data was drawn from only 15 local organizations, which is a significantly lower number than those that reported data in the previous two years.

The Basics

This indicator reports the total attendance at all those organizations that participated in the PA Cultural Data Project in the year indicated. It includes both:

  • Paid attendance: those who paid an entrance fee to visit an organization, participate in a program, or otherwise experience an organization’s work. This includes general visitors, ticket holders, members, subscribers, students taking classes, workshop participants, those attending outreach activities, etc.
  • Free attendance: those who participated in an organization’s programming or otherwise experienced an organization’s work and paid no admission fee. This includes cases in which an organization has no admission fee, the visitor entered during a free admission period, or whether the visitor had complimentary tickets to enter or attend. This includes students taking classes, workshop participants, those attending outreach activities, etc.
  • Total attendance: the sum of total free and total paid attendance.

Why is this important?

Arts and culture create jobs and generate tax revenues. Arts and culture are important for building community and economic development. Art can be a pathway to public discussion, as well as gaining understanding on social issues and building social connections. Restaurants, art galleries, and music venues can be major selling points of an area when an individual is looking to move. Bringing in new residents allows the local economy to expand.

The Details

The Cultural Data Project is a nationwide effort. The CDP database is comprised of self-selected entities that voluntarily submit data either to participate in the data collection effort or for the purpose of applying to a CDP-affiliated grantmaker. It is not a comprehensive collection of all arts and culture-related organizations. The types of data collected include basic organizational information, revenues, expenses, marketing activities, balance sheet items, investments, loans and a wide range of non-financial information (including contributor numbers, attendance, space, pricing, capital and endowment campaigns, program activity and staffing).

The Nitty-Gritty Details

Cultural Data Project:
* Overview:
* FAQs about CDP data


Paid attendance, free attendance, and total attendance.

Peer Areas

None so far




Cultural Data Project

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